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Featured Blu-ray Review: Bull Durham

August 7th, 2010

Bull Durham - Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack - Buy from Amazon

It's August, which is right when the Baseball season starts to get really interesting. It is also when the Seattle Mariners are routinely eliminated from the playoff race. Okay, they are not mathematically out of it yet, but it is close enough. Seattle is the nearest team to where I live, so they are kind of my home team. Them and the Toronto Bluejays. Toronto is also not going to make the playoffs, but at least they should finish above 500 this year. So why am I talking baseball, because Bull Durham is made its Blu-ray debut last week and the screener just arrived. Bull Durham is widely considered one of the best baseball movies of all time and for fans of the genre, it is a must own. The only question is if it is worth owning on Blu-ray?

The Movie

The film tells the story of two baseball players on the opposite end of their careers. Eddy LaLoosh has an amazing arm, but lacks the control to be a major leaguer, both on the field and off. (He's nearly late for his professional debut, because he's having sex in the dressing room. While during the game, he hit the mascot, twice, and walked a league record 18 batters.) So the team brought in Crash Davis to be his catcher, and more importantly, his mentor. Crash has been playing baseball for 12 years, all but 21 days in the minors. For him, this assignment is a demotion. He has little interest in helping a spoiled kid make it to the big show when he knows he has little chance of ever getting back there himself. On the other hand, his career is winding down and its do this or retire.

Into this volatile relationship comes Annie Savoy, a self-professed worshiper at the Church of Baseball. Every year she chooses one player to... mentor... and each year that player has the best year of his career. This time around she's choosing between Eddy and Crash. Crash has no interest in auditioning and leaves, meaning Eddy wins by default. However, no one has turned down Annie before, and this intrigues her. Quite frankly, the two do seem to be made for each other.

So you have three relationships: The Crash / Eddy mentor / mentee relations, the Annie / Eddy phsyical relationship, and the Annie / Crash romantic tension relationship. Add in some great writing, witty dialogue, amazing performances, etc. and you have all the ingredients for a top notch movie.

Sometimes all the right ingredients are still not enough, but this film lives up to its potential. It's a baseball movie that transcends its genre. It's not perfect, and there are some parts that feel episodic. The writer / director, Ron Shelton and the uncredited co-writer, Kurt Russel, both played minor league baseball. A few scenes feel like they were added because something similar happened to them in real life and they thought these scenes were too much fun not to have in the movie. Fortunately, they were right. Perhaps one could argue that some of these asides hurt the flow of the plot, but I'm not one of those people.

Also, the language is a little more... colorful than I remember, but this makes sense given the cast of characters. I highly doubt minor league baseball players limit their vocabulary to PG-13 friendly words.

So the movie itself is a must own for fans of baseball, and worth picking up for those more ambivalent to the sport. But how is the Blu-ray?

The Extras

There are no extras on the Blu-ray, except for the trailer. The DVD disc that comes in this combo pack is the 20th Anniversary Edition with two audio commentary tracks, making featurettes, a look at real life minor league baseball, etc. Why they didn't port these extras over to the Blu-ray, especially the audio commentary tracks, is something I just can't possibly understand. I cant understand, and I don't want to understand.

The technical presentation is even more depressing, as the film is given a MPEG-2 encode with a 19.2 MBPS on a 25 GB single layer disc. What does this mean? It means it looks like a DVD upconversion and not a true High Definition release. It's not terrible, as the DVD looks just fine, but it is hardly making the case to upgrade. The audio is likewise unspectacular but isn't marred by any real flaws either.

The price on is $18.49, which is a tad high for this type of release. Particularly if you have the previous Anniversary edition DVD, which currently costs $10.49.

The Verdict

Bull Durham was released in 1988, which means in 2013 it will be the film's 25th anniversary. I predict that near the start of the 2013 MLB season, Bull Durham will get a proper Blu-ray release. Until then, the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is an unsatisfying High Definition debut for a movie that deserves so much more.

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